I bring you a review of a fantasy novel. As you know, I don’t read many books in this genre, but after reading Teagan Geneviene’s fabulous serial Dead of Winter, and after seeing this novel featured on many blogs, I had to give it a go. And I’m so pleased I did.
The Necromancer’s Daughter by D. Wallace Peach
A healer with the talent to unravel death. A stillborn child brought to life. A father lusting for vengeance. And a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.
A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she, too, learns to heal death.
Denied a living heir, the widowed king spies from a distance. But he heeds the claims of the fiery Vicar of the Red Order—in the eyes of the Blessed One, Aster is an abomination, and to embrace the evil of resurrection will doom his rule.
As the king’s life nears its end, he defies the vicar’s warning and summons the necromancer’s daughter. For his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade. Armed with righteousness and iron-clad conviction, the Order’s brothers ride into the leas to cleanse the land of evil.
To save her father’s life, Aster leads them beyond Verdane’s wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a wilderness of dragons and barbarian tribes. Unprepared for a world rife with danger and unchecked power, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.
From best-selling fantasy author D. Wallace Peach comes a retelling of the legend of Kwan-yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. Set in a winter world of dragons, intrigue, and magic, The Necromancer’s Daughter is a story about duty, defiance, cruelty, and sacrifice— an epic tale of compassion and deep abiding love where good and evil aren’t what they seem.
About the author:
A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.
In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.
Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.
For book descriptions, excerpts, maps, and behind the scenes info, please visit
For her blog on all things writing, please visit http://mythsofthemirror.com
Ready for an adventure?
The Ferryman and the Sea Witch; The Sorcerer’s Garden; Sunwielder; The Bone Wall; The Melding of Aeris; Unraveling the Veil Series: Liars and Thieves, Allies and Spies, Lords of Chaos; The Shattered Sea Duology: Soul Swallowers, Book I, Legacy of Souls, Book II; The Rose Shield Tetralogy: Catling’s Bane, Book I, Oathbreakers’ Guild, Book II, Farlanders’ Law, Book III, Kari’s Reckoning, Book IV; The Dragon Soul Saga: Myths of the Mirror, Book I, Eye of Fire, Book II, Eye of Blind, Book III, Eye of Fire, Book IV; Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters: A Children’s Space Tale.
I have read many great reviews of Wallace Peach’s novels, and although the genre wasn’t one of my favourites, I was intrigued by this one, partly because of the description, and partly because I read an interview with the author where she shared how she came to write this story. She was challenged to write a story where one of the protagonists wasn’t attractive and handsome but was beautiful inside, truly good with a heart of gold. A sample of the book nailed the deal, and I am very happy I decided to read it because this novel is as good as everybody said.
Although I don’t consider myself a fan of fantasy, I have always loved fairy tales, and the story of Aster and Barus has something of the fairy tale, a fairly dark one at times. (We all know some fairy tales are incredibly cruel and dark). Death, necromancy, people coming back from death, poisons, religious fanaticism, wars, destruction, intolerance, lies, threats, betrayals, persecutions… At the end of the book, the author explains how the story relates to the legend of Kwan-yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, and though there are similarities, this is an original revisiting of the legend, with many distinct characteristics.
Both Barus and Aster are fascinating characters. They both have to fight against terrible odds to pursue their calling of being healers, of the living and sometimes even of the dead: Barus, because he is severely handicapped by his poor health and his contorted body; Aster, because she was born a princess but also dead, and she is seen as an abomination by the members of a religious order with plenty of power in her kingdom, the Red Order. She does not want to be queen or to exercise her birthright, but that seems to be the only way she can help her father. If you imagine things won’t go according to plan, you will be right.
Aster isn’t the only one who finds herself in a bind that gets more and more entangled the more she tries to free herself from it. One of the male characters she meets, Joreh, is trapped between his loyalty to his father (the Vicar of the order), his faith in the Goddess, and his strong feelings for Aster. His attitude and beliefs change over time, and he is, perhaps, the character who evolves the most in the story. I liked those characters, and many more, in particular, Teko, who brings a light and fun touch to the novel. That does not mean everybody is good in the novel. The Red Order, and the Vicar in particular, have few redeeming qualities (if any), and there are others who are somewhat ambiguous and that helps to make them more realistic.
Those who, like me, aren’t too fond of lengthy backstories and complex and detailed world-building which slows down the story, don’t need to worry. There are beautiful descriptions of places and beings (yes, dragons among others), but those are always narrated (in the third person) from the point of view of one of the main characters and are relevant to the story. The author is excellent at providing us with information about the world order and the people in it in small doses as the story advances, without overwhelming us or causing confusion.
A couple of random quotes will give you a taster of the quality of the writing:
A salty breeze raised a lacy froth on the waves’ tips, and giant swells rolled into a tapered cleft, thundering when they crashed against unforgiving walls. The day’s golden light hid behind a sheath of clouds, and mist billowed with the icy breath of the coming winter.
“No sense scaring anyone with stories that aren’t true when there’s enough true ones to make a person think twice.”
The snowfall had dwindled, but not the wind. Silver-rimmed clouds scudded across a gibbous moon, and the frigid night kissed his cheeks like a ghostly lover, enveloping him in her icy arms.
There are plenty of adventures, and action scenes, alternating with more contemplative moments, and some truly emotional events, and although I was sorry to get to the final page of the story, I found the ending satisfying. In an ideal world, I would love to learn more about Aster’s mother and also about some of the other female characters who only make brief appearances in this novel (much of the story is about Aster’s quest to find her “father”, Barus, and she is mostly surrounded by men), and I would also like to know more about the connection between Aster (and other blood members of her family) and the dragons. I am sure the author has plenty of ideas to work on already, but just in case she is ever stuck, I leave my suggestions there. Perhaps a prequel?
There is violence, death (including the death of children), and some of the content can be disturbing, but if the topic and the description don’t cause concern, I don’t hesitate in recommending the story not only to those who love fantasy, but also to readers of adventure stories who don’t mind a touch of fancy, the supernatural, and who appreciate dark fairy-tales, with psychologically complex characters and superb writing. Another author I will keep a close eye on in the future.
Thanks to the author for this novel, thanks to numerous bloggers for recommending it, thanks to all of you for reading this, and remember to like, comment, and share it with anybody who might enjoy it. Oh, and of course, keep smiling and taking care of yourselves.